26 Embarrassing Scandals the Royal Family Will Never Live Down

EntertainmentPublished Mar 21, 2024
By CafeMom Contributor
royal family trooping the colour 2018James Devaney/FilmMagic

The British royal family usually appears to be the epitome of perfection with their manicured images and polite and proper demeanors. But the truth is, behind closed palace doors, the royals are a family marked by scandals and secrets, and they have been for all of time. Seriously, given all the headlines over the years, one would think that E!'s scripted drama The Royals wasn't all that far off! Especially with all the drama surrounding the likes of Prince Andrew and his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein and more recently, Kate Middleton, who seemingly disappeared from the public eye entirely between the end of 2023 and the spring of 2024.

But all the drama is part of what the world loves about the royals. Without it, the family wouldn't be nearly as intriguing or fun to follow, right? 

Of course, certain scandals have been more tearjerking or troubling than entertaining. Consider Princess Diana and Prince Charles' divorce and all of the trauma that occurred before the pair officially split. Her utterly tragic death. Prince Harry's outrageously offensive move on Halloween 2004.

That said, there have been headline-making moments that got the entire royal crew all worked up, and in retrospect, perhaps they were jaw-dropping to the world of the '70s, '80s, or '90s, but today, they'd be consider NBD.  

Here, the most deliciously dramatic royal family scandals.

More from CafeMom: 20 Times Kate Middleton Looked Totally Over Her Royal Life

Kate Middleton-placeholder
Kate Middleton
Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

Kate Middleton Disappeared From the Public Eye

In January 2024, Kensington Palace announced that Prince William's wife Kate Middleton needed to undergo abdominal surgery and that she would be not be working or making any public appearances from then until Easter so that she could recover. The announcement did not reveal what Kate's surgery was for, only that it was a planned surgery.

A few weeks later, online sleuths realized that at that point, Kate had already not been seen in public for nearly a month already — the last time being the royal family's Christmas outing.

By March, concern began to grow and Kate conspiracy theories were running rampant on the internet. The royal family released a photo of Kate and the kids for UK Mother's Day shortly after, and it was eventually revealed by experts that the photo had been edited in several places, putting its credibility into doubt.

Then, what appeared to be a video of William leaving a farm store with Kate became the subject of scrutiny and much of the public agreed that whoever was walking with him was likely a body double. And still, the palace did not come forward to clear the air about her medical condition or where Kate had actually been for months.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Stepped Down as Working Royals

Back in January 2020, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markel, announced that they planned to step down as working members of the royal family. They followed through on that announcement and in March 2020, they moved from the UK to California (after a brief stint in Canada).

Their decision reportedly didn't sit well with the royal family and rumor has it that he and his brother Prince William have not been on great terms ever since.

Tony Clark / Splash News


Long before she was mom to George and Charlotte, Kate Middleton was just another topless sunbather being photographed by a cameraman in the bushes. The palace was horrified and so was Kate, but the world somehow managed to survive seeing Kate's boobs.

More from CafeMom: 18 Times Kate Middleton Looked Like She Was Going To Snap

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Harry's Naked Photos
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Harry's Naked Photos

When he was unleashed for a weekend of partying in Vegas, he ended up playing billiards in his birthday suit. Unfortunately, a kind friend leaked the nude photos of Prince Harry cupping his crotch and groping another naked billiards player to the press. The palace, of course, had "No Comment." Undoubtedly a lot of women who viewed the photos did.

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Prince Charles Wanted to Be ... WHAT?
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Prince Charles Wanted to Be ... WHAT?

Long before Prince Charles married second wife and first love Camilla Parker Bowles, the two were caught on tape having the royal version of phone sex. The tawdry conversations included Charles saying he wanted to be Camilla's tampon. Ew, Charles. Just ew.

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When the Duchess of York Played Footsie
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When the Duchess of York Played Footsie

Not long after she had separated from Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson's foot was literally in the mouth of Texas businessman John Bryan. The palace was embarrassed, as if they weren't already.

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When Sarah Ferguson Tried to Sell Prince Andrew
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When Sarah Ferguson Tried to Sell Prince Andrew

With her career as Prince Andrew's wife not taking off, Ferguson was looking to make a few bucks when she tries to sell an undercover reporter unlimited access to the Prince Andrew in exchange for the small price of approximately $700,000.

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James Hewitt Tried To Sell Diana's Letters
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James Hewitt Tried To Sell Diana's Letters

Princess Diana wasn't shy about admitting her five-year affair with the cavalry officer, but it wasn't until after her death that Hewitt tried to sell Diana's love letters to him. He has since been living in Marbella, Spain, after the scandal went public. Ouch.

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Thomas Markle's Pre-Wedding Shenanigans
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Thomas Markle's Pre-Wedding Shenanigans

Before Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tied the knot, there was a lot of drama coming their way from Meghan's side of the family. After sharing way too much info about her with the press, Thomas then refused to go to the wedding, claiming it was because of his previous hospitalization. However, the drama continued well after Meghan was married and he had recovered.

Check out our Meghan Markle page for all the latest news about Meghan, Prince Harry, and their growing family.

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Diana's Brother Rips the Family Apart
Tom Meinelt/Splash News

Diana's Brother Ripped the Family Apart

After the palace stripped Princess Diana of her title and treated her less than princess-like, her brother was open about his disdain for the royal family. In Charles Spencer's eulogy for his sister, he said she didn't need her former title and had found happiness with Dodi Fayed. Burn!

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The Photos of Kate's Butt
Splash News

The Photos of Kate's Butt

Although it was widely known that the late Queen Elizabeth would have weights sewn into her hemlines to reduce the potential of the wind forcing her to give all of England a free show, Kate Middleton has had many near misses when it comes to the wind and her skirt. But on a 2014 trip to Australia with a helicopter whirring behind her, Kate's skirt flew up, and photographers published photos of her behind. The palace did not comment on the decision to publish the photo.

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Charles & Diana Get a Divorce
Corbis/Splash News

Charles & Diana Get a Divorce

Their romance started as a fairy tale arranged marriage with both later admitting to extramarital affairs and a polite disdain for each other. Divorce is frowned upon in the royal family. Instead, couples are requested to suffer into eternity together. Upon their divorce, Diana was paid a lump sum. And despite being stripped of her title, she no longer had to spend her life with Charles.

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Prince William Cheating Rumors
Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

Prince William Cheating Rumors

Back in April 2019, rumors spread that William had cheated on Kate with family friend Rose Hanbury. So far, none of these claims have been confirmed, but if it was true, the ramifications could be explosive. And rumors or not, it still rocked the public's opinion of William for a while.

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Prince Philip Drops the F-Bomb
Keelane/Splash News

Prince Philip Dropped the F-Bomb

While being photographed for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Prince Philip grew impatient and yelled to a photographer, "Just take the eff-ing picture." Queen Elizabeth's husband was known for his off-color remarks, like the time he visited China and said, "If you stay here too long you become slitty-eyed." Good thing he was a royal and not a politician, or he'd have lost his job, right?

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Meghan's Documentary
Jeremy Selwyn / POOL / AFP

Meghan's Documentary

While filming for her and Harry's documentary about their Africa tour, Meghan got real about the pressures of being pregnant and becoming a new mom under the public eye. Although fans applauded her for how real she was, it seemed like it sparked a bit of a scandal as far as her family was concerned. In fact, the royals were reportedly "frustrated" at Meghan for airing her true thoughts in the way that she did.

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Prince Andrew Dates an Adult Film Star
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Prince Andrew Dated an Adult Film Star

On vacation in the Caribbean after serving time in the Falklands, Andrew was photographed with Koo Stark, an American who had previously dabbled in the adult film business. All of England gasped, but apparently Andrew wasn't listening.

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Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Private Plane
Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Private Plane

In their time together, both Meghan and Harry have gotten flak for flying in a private plane instead of flying commercial, because of the effect that it can have on the environment. It's important to note that the couple does fly commercial occasionally — but when they don't, it's all scandal. Yikes!

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Princess Anne's Husband Has a Baby With Someone Else
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Princess Anne's Husband Had a Baby With Someone Else

When Princess Anne's first husband road horses out of town, Mark Phillips with art teacher Heather Tonkin. In 1981, a DNA test proved Tonkin's daughter was actually Phillips'. Anne and Philips divorced a year later.

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Princess Margaret's Naked Photos
Demis Maryannakis /Splash News

Princess Margaret's Naked Photos

Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's sister, was reportedly the beauty of the family and married photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. He became known as the Earl of Snowdon. Margaret reportedly carried on many affairs during her marriage to Snowdon. When robbers broke in to the Baker Street Branch of Lloyd's of London, they stole among other things nude photos of Margaret with a man who was not her husband. The story later became the premise for the Jason Statham film "The Bank Job."

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Princess Diana's Phone Calls Weren't Private
Corbis / Splash News

Princess Diana's Phone Calls Weren't Private

Although Princess Diana seemed shy in public, on the phone she was anything but. When transcripts of Diana's private conversations with a special friend, James Gilbey, became public, they provided insight into the publicly shy princess, including her description of her marriage to Charles as "real torture."

When Prince Harry Went to Rehab-placeholder
When Prince Harry Went to Rehab
Zak Hussein/Splash

When Prince Harry Went to Rehab

Back when Harry was just 17, he told Prince Charles that he’d tried marijuana on numerous occasions and participated in underage drinking, and he ended up going to a drugs rehabilitation clinic for a one-day stay. An official at St. James’ Palace said it was a way “to learn about the possible consequences of starting to take cannabis.”

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When Harry Was Photographed Wearing a Nazi Armband
Toby Melville/Reuters/SPlash

When Harry Was Photographed Wearing a Nazi Armband

Scandal struck Harry once more a few years later when he was spotted at a costume party wearing a Nazi armband. In response, Clarence House released a statement that read, “Prince Harry has apologised for any offence or embarrassment he has caused. He realises it was a poor choice of costume.”

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Princess Anne Fell in Love With a Royal Staff Member
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Princess Anne Fell in Love With a Royal Staff Member

Another Princess Anne scandal that swirled around her 1992 divorce: The princess had fallen in love with her one of her equerries, Timothy Laurence, who was a British Naval officer. After announcing her divorce with Phillips, Anne added that she’d be marrying Laurence.

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A Royal Lawsuit
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A Royal Lawsuit

After media outlets published Meghan's personal letter to her dad, she and Harry decided to fight back. This fall, he announced that he and Meghan filed a lawsuit against the press, which continued to publish personal stories about Meghan. Their battle is far from over, though.

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Prince Charles Dated Princess Diana's Sister First
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Prince Charles Dated Princess Diana's Sister First

Princess Di's eldest sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, is known for having introduced the future Princess of Wales to Prince Charles. But before that, McCorquodale reportedly dated the prince briefly in the '70s. But their dalliance ended when she said she'd never marry Charles “if he were the dustman or the King of England.” Burn!

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Prince Andrew's Jeffrey Epstein Involvement
Christopher Furlong - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Andrew's Jeffrey Epstein Involvement

Toward the end of 2019, Prince Andrew found himself in some serious hot water after his interview about his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Not only did he end up stepping down from his royal duties, but Queen Elizabeth also canceled his birthday party. It's hard to imagine a bigger shakeup than this hitting the royal family.

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